This essay was original published at Roxy Reviews and is reprinted here with permission.
THE JEM BIBLE AND THE MISFITS
The Jem Bible is a great resource, but I think the characters ended up being fleshed out somewhat differently in the actual episodes, especially later on.
According to the Jem Bible, the Misfits have "no concept of friendship." I disagree. The Misfits really did seem to be friends. Perhaps they weren't happy-sappy friends the way the Holograms were, but they did seem to genuinely enjoy each other's company. There are many sequences showing them at Gabor Mansion doing things totally unrelated to music---painting their nails, watching TV, even quietly reading in the living room. On vacation, they rarely separate. If they really hated each other, I doubt they'd hang out so much.
Also, it's obvious throughout the show that despite their squabbling, the Misfits are fiercely protective of each other. As Stormer says in "Truly Outrageous," "we take care of our own." In "Starbright," when Jeff Wright blows off Roxy, as she walks away, she is immediately surrounded and supported by fellow Misfits. In "Island of Deception" they immediately go after Roxy when she falls into the boat; in "Shangri-La" Jetta and Stormer care for the wounded members of their band. And, frankly, if they were always pulling in separate directions they wouldn't be able to pull off all the stunts they do throughout the series.
THE MISFITS AND MUSIC
In the early episodes and the production notes, the Misfits seem to simply be a foil to the Holograms, a bunch of hooligans assembled and operated by Eric Raymond. In "Truly Outrageous," they win the first "Battle of the Bands" because their competitors are so awful. Ah, but there is so much, much more there.
The Misfits do have considerable musical clout of their own. They are nominated, and win, the "Best New Rock Group" music award. They are invited to many all-star events, such as the Battle of the Music Stars ("Hot Time in Hawaii"), the Rock Fashion Show ("In Stitches") and the Magic Show ("Music is Magic") based on their own reputation--not through any wheeling, dealing or cheating. The producer of the Broadway show in "Broadway Magic" likes them enough to bend his own rules and offer them understudy roles. The Misfits are well recognized by both media outlets ("Scandal", "The Jazz Player") and their peers ("The Bands Break Up," when the owner of the club recognizes Stormer as a Misfit). They, and not Jem, are the first band invited to the Glitter & Gold contest, and they have at least one #1 charted single ("Glitter & Gold"). The Misfits also are depicted playing huge stadium concerts and are surrounded by screaming fans at public events ("The Music Awards," the movie premiere in "Starbright," "The Battle of the Bands," "Glitter & Gold," etc.). Clearly they have some talent, or at least a sound that the public enjoys.
In addition, despite their bouts of laziness ("...Stolen Album," for one) they do seem to have a vested interest in their music. They continually harangue their manager to find new ways to promote them, and go along with any number of stunts to further their cause. In fact, many of the Misfits' anti-Jem schemes are actually engineered out of the fear that the Holograms will get the "edge" and affect their own business.
With the exception of Pizzazz, everyone in the band knows how to play more than one instrument and read music. They do rehearse. In "Roxy Rumbles," Pizzazz is angry that Roxy has missed rehearsal, and when she appears, she is told, "knock it off, we have work to do." In "The Bands Break Up," Stormer is upset because everyone is cutting up, but they are still actually at the studio.
The Jem Bible makes specific reference to Misfits music, saying it should describe "negative values"--again, to contrast to the wholesome, positive image of Jem. In the earliest episodes, this is certainly the case. Lyrics like those of "Winning is Everything": if someone gets hurt, well them's the breaks/if you want to reach the top don't let anybody stop you! are snarky, at the very least.
After "Starbright," though, most the Misfits' music can be seen as strong, rather than negative. "It Takes A Lot" is a song of endurance; "I Like Your Style" is one of admiration (or flirtation!) and "Top of the Charts" and "How Does it Feel" are about relishing success. In "Designing Woman," Pizzazz sings of doing for herself, and not letting herself "fritter her life away flipping the dial": that could be construed as a positive message for girls! Even songs like "I am a Giant," with its Strong and Defiant, I am a giant! could be seen as messages of self-confidence and self-reliance, rather than negativity.
And the music is good. Most of the Misfits' music has strong bass and keyboards, and seems more complex in composition than that of the Holograms. Toward the end of the series especially, a lot of the Holograms' songs tend to sound the same. Not so for the Misfits. They also seem to have a much more diverse style than the Holograms--compare "I Like Your Style" to "I Love a Scandal" to "It Takes a Lot" to "Queen of Rock N' Roll" and you discover a band that is fairly versatile.
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